For years now people have emailed me questions about what to do about a child who won't practice piano when told to. My children don't have that problem because of how I began piano with them. The secret to having children enjoy practice time is in giving the child more ownership and less anxiety. This video shows how I work with my children when they are small.[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h33Xk-fK0KY&feature=player_embedded]
When my oldest told me that he wanted to learn piano, I didn't go out and get him a teacher. Instead, I started to give him mini lessons myself. We worked together a few times a week and slowly progressed. I would practice with them until they seemed like they were 'done.' That was it. Then I would report about their desire and new found talent to family and friends to give the child plenty of opportunities to take ownership of their new skill by playing in front of people.
I told my children that as soon as they felt they could play a song smoothly they could 'pass it off.' This method allowed them to move as quickly as possible from piece to piece. Taking this approach, increased confidence and made it so my child didn't get bored. The increased confidence led to more ownership.
As my child grew I told him that as soon as he could play better than I could then I would get him the best teacher I could find. A number of years ago this happened. Both Quin and Paije began to pass me up. Then I found Lawrence Gee, in Salt Lake City, UT. He mentors them in piano and voice, and has become a great asset to their lives and education.
Here is Larry playing with a string quartet. [video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR5RhSiE0A8]
This is our piano story.
I know some people might not be able to instruct a child because they don't know the instrument themselves. My advice to you is, learn it yourself. Either at the same time, or a little ahead of the child. It will give you opportunity for more bonding and allow you to be more flexible about the pace your child goes.
I am not a professional music teacher. But, as a mother, this is what has worked for us. I hope this helps.
What If They Don't Want To Practice?
If I had a child who wouldn't practice when asked: I would make sure to re-establish a tone about learning the instrument. Help increase ownership by discussing vision and goals in mentor sessions. And, make sure they know that practice is an instruction. Then, if you have taught them to follow instructions, they will be ready to follow the instruction; even if they don't want to.